It's puzzling to still see John Scott employed by a team in the National Hockey League.
After his cheap shot on Loui Eriksson Wednesday night, it will be even more puzzling if John Scott is still skating professionally.
For those who missed it, here is a clip of Scott's cheap shot to Eriksson in the third period of the Bruins' 5-2 win over the Sabres.
Does this hit look familiar? It sure looks like it does.
Just go back to March of 2010 when ex-Penguin Matt Cooke laid a vicious elbow to Marc Savard's head. Despite landing a cheap shot and effectively ending Savard's career, Cooke escaped suspension by then NHL chief disciplinarian Colin Campbell. In order to try to limit head shots, the league established "Rule 48."
Since it's inception, "Rule 48" has gotten quite the notoriety around the league. Whenever we see a head shot live on tv, in-person, on replay or on the nightly highlights, commentators and analysts - whether its a cheap shot or accidental - immediately refer to "Rule 48" as their talking point(s).
Another fine example of this rule coming to fruition came just 15 months after the Cooke incident when Aaron Rome elbowed Nathan Horton in the head during the Stanley Cup Final. That resulted in both Horton (concussion) and Rome (suspension) missing the rest of the series.
For a refresher, here is the NHL's definition of "Rule 48" in the official league rulebook:
"Rule 48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered."
Like Savard, Eriksson left Wednesday's game in Buffalo presumably with a concussion. He did not travel with the team when they returned to Boston Thursday morning and will stay in Western New York for further examinations.
Like Cooke, Scott is the subject of the latest controversy, but with good reason. It's true that the 6-foot-8 goon hasn't been suspended in his career, because, well, he hasn't done much to merit it. After all, when someone averages more penalty minutes than time on ice through his tenure, then it's hard to label him as a "cheap shot artist."
It would be one thing if this were an isolated incident. But earlier this preseason, Scott's behavior was questionable, again, when he poked Phil Kessel into dropping the gloves.
Scott might have played his role to a science Wednesday night, but he didn't do himself any favors.
"The referees called it the way everyone saw it," head coach Claude Julien said afterwards.
"It's unfortunate. The guy who did it did his job tonight. He's out there for two reasons, and that's either to fight or hurt...he did his job tonight."
The same message from Julien was echoed throughout the visiting locker room at the First Niagara Center. But Scott, coach Ron Rolston, and the rest of the Sabres declined to comment.
The Sabres' inept ability to avoid questioning on this is another example of how things have gone from bad to worse. At 1-9-1, they have indeed fallen on hard times, but Scott's antics is just another dark cloud hovering around the city of Buffalo.
The Bruins, meanwhile, did a good job maintaining their composure. Adam McQuaid rightfully dropped the gloves with Scott, who was given a game misconduct, to protect his teammate. Torey Krug scored his second of the night on the power play, and the B's sent a clear message that they would not tolerate this type of behavior any longer from their Atlantic Division rivals.
Perhaps the Sabres are still frustrated after Milan Lucic ran over Ryan Miller two years ago. As a result, they signed Scott and several other goons to try to beef up that roster. That decision has not paid off for GM Darcy Regier, who continues to face public scrutiny in Buffalo. And perhaps that scrutiny will grow with fans and media alike outside Buffalo as his reputation takes a deeper hit.
Scott will have an in-person hearing on Thursday. It's a chance for Shanahan to send a message that the league will not tolerate his shenanigans and lay the hammer with a lengthy suspension (I would give him a season-long suspension, but the odds of that happening are slim-to-none). It may not be a big loss for Buffalo given Scott's on-ice ability (or lack thereof), but it's a chance for the NHL to step up, in light of the ongoing concussion debate, and take a stand for the better.
These cheap shots have no place in the National Hockey League, nor does John Scott.
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